Abruzzo, Italy (July 20, 2013) -- Conrad "the Caveman" Stoltz and Helena Erbenova won the inaugural XTERRA Abruzzo off-road triathlon on Saturday.
The victories come just a week after both Stoltz and Erbenova claimed the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in the Netherlands. For Stoltz, it’s his 48th major XTERRA victory, and it's the fourth-in-a-row for Erbenova on the 2013 XTERRA European Tour.
Paul Charbonnier, the race director for XTERRA France, was in Abruzzo to give us his impressions.
Scanno can be considered as a paradise for XTERRA athletes with many trails starting from this clear water lake surrounded by big mountains. The village in the middle of these Abruzzo Mountains, is just as scenic as you can imagine. Easily reachable after 2h drive from Roma, you are in the real Italy with friendly people who are proud and happy to host an XTERRA event.
After the bike check in on Saturday morning, race director Wolf Hardt, made a quick pro presentation and started the race briefing in both Italian and English.
The swim course is quite simple. You swim 1k before exiting and running around 100m before diving again to the lake for the last 500m.
Bike course consists of 1 loop of 31,5km mainly composed by one long climb (elevation gain of 1150m) and a long downhill. Again one loop for the 10,4km run course including some vertical drops.
Conrad Stoltz, is the big attraction of this XTERRA Abruzzo, considering he's not racing often in Europe, lot of people wonder how he can challenge top European athletes on this kind of courses. The answer is simple: He smashed them!
The Caveman show started at 14h00. Staying with the swim leader Gianpietro De Faveri, Stoltz was already leading the race at the exit of the transition area! One of his main challengers, Asa Shaw, was 30'' behind. For the rest of the pro field, including Nico Lebrun who designed the race course, Stoltz lead was already more than 2'.
Stoltz pushed hard on the bike. Behind him a trio composed by Nico Pfitzenmaier, François Carloni and Nico Lebrun tried to gather their efforts to catch the South African, without success.
Around 3 minutes after Conrad left transition area, Pfitzenmaier reached T2 in second position with a minute over Carloni and Lebrun who had a flat tire in the last 10k. 5th place was kept by young kiwi Olly Shaw who made a great run course to pass Carloni and finish 4th overall for his first year as pro.
While Stoltz was celebrating his victory, running through the finish line like a boxer, Lebrun passed Pfitzenmaier to finish second.
First Italian athlete Simone Calamai finishes 8th and first age grouper Jan Pyott from Switzerland get a great 9th place overall.
Stoltz said '' that was a really tough course but I had lot of fun especially through the streets of Scanno with all these people cheering. During the bike I looked over my shoulder to check if Nico Lebrun was coming back and I keep pushing hard.''
1.Conrad Stoltz, South Africa 2h43'34''
2.Nicolas Lebrun, France 2h47'43''
3.Nico Pfitzenmaier, Germany 2h50'11''
4.Oliver Shaw, New Zealand 2h51'09''
5.François Carloni, France 2h51'42''
6.Asa Shaw, United Kingdom 2h54'50''
7.Jim Thijs, Belgium 2h55'18''
8.Simone Calamai, Italy 3h05'39''
9.Jan Pyott, Switzerland* 3h05'50''
10.Alessandro Bonalumi, Italy* 3h06'32''
* age group
The women’s race was a bit more exciting but the question remains the same, who can beat Helena Erbenova?
Chantell Widney leads the swim, Marion Lorblanchet just 15'' back. Renata Bucher was 2' behind and Helena Erbenova more than 2'30''. Currently, Renata Bucher is probably the only one European athlete who can challenge Helena Erbenova. The "Swiss Rocket" has her usual terrific bike ride which allows her to own a bit less than a 3' advantage on Erbenova after the bike. But she needed more to prevent Erbenova to come back and win the race. Chantell Widney finishes again 3rd one week after her podium at ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in Netherlands.
After the race Erbenova confessed ''I suffered on the bike and I had to fight on this really hard course to win and catch Renata on the run."
1,Helena Erbenova, Czech Republic 3h10'16''
2.Renata Bucher, Switzerland 3h12'58''
3.Chantell Widney, Canada 3h23'08''
4.Marion Lorblanchet, France 3h27'47''
5.Sara Tavecchio, Italy 3h34'36''
What a great first edition for the XTERRA Abruzzo. If you love tough race with great landscapes, scenic places and great atmosphere, this is the one you should register for.
Next on the XTERRA World Tour: XTERRA Abruzzo was the fifth European Tour Championship race and the 15th World Tour event to qualify amateur athletes into the XTERRA World Championship to be held in Kapalua, Maui on October 27, 2013.